Hertfordshire choirs in tune
PUBLISHED: 19:32 11 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 20 February 2013
Singing talent abounds in Hertfordshire with a large number of choirs in high demand. Faye Creasey takes a closer look
JANIE Nicholas is breathing a sigh of relief. The St Albans resident and singing enthusiast is a soprano in the prestigious Hertfordshire Chorus and she has just successfully come through the ensembles rigorous auditioning process.
The choir has an extremely high standard and auditions its members every three years. I survived this time thank God, Janie laughs.
This strict process might seem a rather terrifying approach but it ensures that, when it comes to the music, Hertfordshire Chorus is a cut above the rest, and Janie is quick to assure me that it is not as bad as it seems.
They are as unscary as auditions can be, says Janie, who has been a member of Hertfordshire Chorus since 2001.
It is a very friendly choir we are like a huge family. Your voice is so personal so when you are expressing yourself you develop a special bond with your fellow singers.
The choirs high standards mean that it attracts a higher class of singer than most local choirs, with members also performing as extras for the London Symphony Chorus and the Crouch End Festival Chorus two of Londons top choirs. Its singers are also prepared to travel to be part of the group.
One of our members comes from Northampton and we have singers from London as well as all over Hertfordshire. There is a real mix of ages as well our oldest member is in his 70s but what makes us different from other choirs is we are able to attract a lot of young singers in their 20s and 30s. They come because of the high level of singing and also because of the social aspect of the choir. You make very close friends the young ones go out clubbing together while the older ones meet up for coffee or drinks outside rehearsals.
The choir, which celebrates its 40th anniversary next year, sings in top UK venues, including the Barbican, the Royal Albert Hall and The Sage Gateshead. It regularly goes on tour, with recent trips to Italy, Spain and Poland. It also commissions new works from some of the worlds leading contemporary composers. In May this year, Hertfordshire Chorus premired Steve Blocks Solaris at the Barbican and will return in May next year to premire its latest commission, Will Todds setting of Ode to a Nightingale.
It is very exciting to perform the premire of a piece, explains Janie.
The composer comes to rehearsals, listens to the music for the first time being performed by a choir and discusses it with our musical director David Temple [cofounder of the Crouch End Festival Chorus] so the piece can evolve and change as the rehearsal progresses. We commissioned Will Todds Mass in Blue and that has gone on to be performed by a lot of other choirs. To know we were instrumental in introducing a new piece of music into the popular choral repertoire is quite something.
It is this kind of forwardthinking that has attracted Hertfordshire Chorus a faithful following. In its recent performance of Mozarts Requiem at the Barbican, the choir sold 1,100 tickets a tall order for even professional musical ensembles.
People come and hear us because the standard of music is high, explains Janie, not just because their mother or brother is singing. It is all about the music.
The Chiltern Choir
The Chiltern Choir is a 70-strong group with members from Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, Watford and the wider Chilterns area and they are looking for new members. The choir was formed in 1980 and performs a wide range of repertoire, from mainstream traditional music to less familiar contemporary works. It has even had pieces specially commissioned by composers including the celebrated Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Concerts are performed three to four times a year in well known local venues as well as one-off performances in larger venues, such as St Albans Cathedral, in collaboration with other choirs. Want to find out more? The choir is holding an open rehearsal at the Free Church, Chorleywood, on September 21 from 8pm to 10pm. Visit www.chilternchoir. org.uk
Hertfordshire County Youth Choir
Hertfordshire County Youth Choir is recognised as one of Britains leading youth choirs. Members come from a variety of musical backgrounds and you do not have to be able to sight read to join the choir the weekly rehearsals include specialised tuition in voice production and ear training. The choir regularly collaborates with guest conductors, composers and instrumental ensembles, as well as other choirs, including The BBC Concert Orchestra, Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra and a recent collaboration with the BBC Singers. The choir meets most Wednesdays during the autumn and spring terms from 5.30pm to 7.30pm in Hatfield. Auditions will take place in September for the 2010-2011 season. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01727 860941.
Carillon Chamber Choir
Carillon Chamber Choir is a thriving group based in St Albans, although members are drawn from a wide area. It was formed in 1987 and over the years has built up a large repertoire of sacred and secular, ancient and modern music. It is currently looking for soprano, tenor and bass voices. If you would like to join them, contact the auditions secretary Andrew Shepstone on 01727 833205 or visit www.carillonchamberchoir.org and fill in the online form.
Radlett Choral Society
Radlett Choral Society was formed in 1954 and since then has gone on to develop a thriving 70-strong choir performing four concerts a year. Over the years, it has established links with twin choirs in Lautertal in Germany and Louveciennes in France with regular exchange visits for combined concerts.
The choir is looking for new members, particularly tenors and basses. Singers with previous choral experience and those with no experience at all are equally welcome and being able to sight-read music is not essential.
The choir rehearses on Mondays, 7.45pm to 10pm, from September to July at the United Free Church, Radlett. For membership details, telephone 01923 856742 or 01923 856386 or email email@example.com
Ticket deal for HERTFORDSHIRE LIFE READERS
Hertfordshire Chorus is performing Beethovens 9th Symphony The Choral and Poulencs Gloria at the Abbey in St Albans on Saturday October 23. Hertfordshire Life readers qualify for a 20% discount on tickets, which must be purchased in advance through the Hertfordshire Chorus Ticketline (0870 4580445) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Important: you must quote promotional code HCHL. Please note: tickets bought from the Abbey will not qualify for this discount
Visit www.hertfordshirechorus.org.ukfor more about this concert and the choirs other activities. If you are interested in joining or attending an open rehearsal, you can download an information leaflet from the website.